The Hurricanes suffered a big blow today when forward Justin Williams torn his right Achilles tendon, requiring surgery.
Williams, who suffered the injury in an off-ice workout this morning, is expected to be out four to six months. The seven-year veteran missed much of last season with a serious knee injury.
"It's certainly a setback for us," general manager Jim Rutherford said. "We were looking forward to Justin having a big year. This doesn't mean he won't be a part of it. He can come back for the most important part of it.
"We always talk of our depth. We'll see for sure. We have some guys who can jump into the top nine [forwards], but they're not capable of scoring 35 goals like Justin is."
Rutherford said Williams' injury "opens the door wider" for a player such as Jeff O'Neill, the former Hurricanes forward who did not play in the NHL last season and is attempting a comeback.
"If he has a good training camp, that would give us another option," Rutherford said. "We have options. It's difficult to replace a player like Justin, but it is an opportunity for someone else.
"We do not have to take a huge step backward."
Rutherford, noting the team's depth on defense, said the Canes could look into trading for a forward.
"We'll look at everything we can," Rutherford said. "That's what training camp is for — to evaluate. We may have players who perform well and not have to look outside."
UPDATE: It was initially reported that Williams already had undergone surgery. The procedure was scheduled for Thursday.